Microsoft has some new gadget goodies in store for customers this coming Tuesday, May 20th, but the Windows manufacturer has yet to reveal any information concerning the big event. It has become a custom since the days of Apple’s very first iPhone announcement seven years ago, companies desire to keep the most precious details under wraps until the big moment arrives. Fortunately, we here at Inferse have our reliable sources to look to, once again.
What will “Surface” from the Surface? Three products are rumored to be in-store for the Microsoft crowd and consumers.
Surface Mini tablets: one or two?
“Mini” smartphones such as HTC’s recent One Mini 2 and the Galaxy S3 Mini (or the Xperia Z1 Compact, a so-called Mini smartphone by a different name) have become common for manufacturers as a way to encourage sales with a lower retail price than their largest, high-end smartphone models. Apple emerged with the iPad Mini two years ago and recently released its gorgeous Retina iPad Mini model for the first time last September. Rumors now suggest that Microsoft will release what many are calling a “Surface Mini” tablet. The Mini tablet will stand in the same position as Apple’s iPad Mini, coming with a 7 or 8-inch display and a 4:3 aspect ratio that’ll depart from Microsoft’s 16:9 aspect ratio on current Surface tablets.
Aside from the size of the Surface Mini (hopefully, Microsoft won’t place “Mini” in the tablet moniker), the Surface Mini will likely run Windows RT (a giveaway considering that a Qualcomm ARM processor chip will run under the hood) and provide a stylus for on-screen writing and note-taking. It is the case that Microsoft could release two Surface Mini tablets, with one relying on Windows RT while the other takes full advantage of Windows 8.1. Microsoft did the exact same thing when it released the Surface tablet (although the full-blown Windows 8.1 tablet was far more popular than the Windows RT model).
Sources say that Microsoft could place the tablet at around $299 to rival Apple’s first-generation iPad Mini. The Retina iPad Mini (also known as the iPad Mini 2) will drop from its current price of $399 down to $299 this Fall, and the new Surface Mini tablet could compete directly with this as well as Apple’s second-generation Retina iPad Mini model. It’s likely that the Surface Mini Windows RT model will cost slightly less than the Surface Mini Windows 8.1 model will, so we may be looking at a $299 model and a $399 model to match Apple’s 2013 iPad Mini and 2014 iPad Mini versions.
If anything, the Surface Mini may seem to be an attack on Apple’s Retina iPad Mini, but the stylus indicates that Cupertino’s not the only one Microsoft is chasing. If the stylus isn’t a ringing clue, we’ll tell you: Samsung. Samsung’s popularized the use of the stylus with its tablet and smartphone displays, particularly the Note and NotePRo tablets – and Microsoft wants to take a piece of the pie.
12-inch Surface Pro tablet
As always, there’s gotta be a big bang to the show. What’ll it be for Microsoft? A 12-inch Surface Pro tablet, of course! Samsung has always released 7-inch, 8-inch, and 10.1-inch Note tablets, but the company took the wrappers off its 12.2-inch Galaxy NotePRO tablet at Mobile World Congress in February of this year. A 12.2-inch tablet is rather large and close to the size of a full-blown laptop, but it seems as if Samsung’s NotePRO offerings are designed to reach the business professional who can never get too much screen real estate.
Make no mistake, however: Windows has always been able to hold its own in the productivity department. Windows has been effective at multitasking with multiple functions happening simultaneously, so adding a 12-inch Surface Pro offering will only help the Redmond Company. Microsoft currently has a 10.6-inch Surface Pro tablet in its lineup, and a 12.2-inch Surface Pro offering would certainly provide more variety for Microsoft’s high-end customers who prefer larger tablets with more productivity at their disposal. Keep in mind that the Wall Street Journal has reported on more than one occasion that Apple has been considering a 12.9-inch iPad Pro model in order to compete with Microsoft in the long-term, but has somewhat discontinued the idea for this year (at the moment, at least). I’ve a feeling that, should Microsoft emerge with a 12-inch Surface Pro tablet, Cupertino will likely respond to Microsoft’s initiative this Fall. How sweet competition can be!
We’ve also been teased with the possibility that Microsoft may release a Surface wearable at the Tuesday event. What could it be? We’ve heard that Microsoft could release a Surface smartphone or Surface smartwatch. Either way, we’ll have to wait until the big day to find out.
While Windows 8.1 will dominate the show, Windows 9 is headed to market in 2015 and sources say current Windows customers may get the Windows 9 upgrade for free when it arrives.
Microsoft’s “Surface” plans will surface on May 20th, so mark your calendars. Are you a Microsoft customer who loves the company’s Surface line? What do you love about the Surface lineup, and what are you excited to see this Tuesday? Do you want to add a stylus to your Surface experience? Do your thing, as always.